China planned Galwan Valley clash: US report
First Published Dec 2, 2020, 12:56 PM IST
China provoked the deadly Galwan Valley clash on Line of Actual Control -- the first such standoff in nearly half a century, a report submitted to the US Congress. The report also goes on to note how the world has been awakened to the ambitions and tactics of the Chinese Communist Party. Here are excerpts from US-China Economic and Security Review Commission's 2020 report to the US Congress with regard to the Galwan Valley faceoff.
"In June 2020, the PLA and Indian troops engaged in a massive physical brawl in the Galwan Valley, located in the far-western Ladakh region along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) separating the two countries. The clash, which followed a series of standoffs beginning in early May along multiple sectors of the LAC, led to at least 20 Indian deaths and an unconfirmed number of Chinese casualties, the first time since 1975 that lives were lost in fighting between the two sides."
"Tanvi Madan, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, argued in her testimony before the Commission that this clash marked a 'turning point' in the Sino-Indian relationship and that it was unlikely the relationship would return to normal.
According to Dr Madan, if China’s goal from its actions was "to acquire territory... (the Chinese government) might deem the moves a success." If Beijing intended to dissuade India from building infrastructure on its side of the LAC or warn it against aligning with the United States, however, "then the Chinese moves have been ineffective, if not counterproductive."
"Some evidence suggested the Chinese government had planned the incident, potentially including the possibility for fatalities. For instance, several weeks prior to the clash Defense Minister Wei made his statement encouraging Beijing to use 'fighting to promote stability'. Just over two weeks before the incident, in another potential indication of Chinese leaders signaling their intent to escalate tensions, an editorial in China's state-owned tabloid Global Times warned that India would suffer a 'devastating blow' to its trade and economic ties with China if it got 'involved in the US-China rivalry'."
"Satellite images depicted a large Chinese buildup in the Galwan Valley, including potentially 1,000 PLA soldiers, the week before the deadly skirmish. China and India have engaged in multiple physical clashes along their border for decades, but since General Secretary Xi assumed power in 2012 the two countries have seen five major altercations along their border. Exact motivations behind the Chinese government's provocative behavior on the LAC this year remain unclear."
"The proximate cause of the clash appeared to be India's construction of a strategic access road to support troops stationed along the LAC. China has also built extensive infrastructure along the LAC in recent years. In the aftermath of the clash, Beijing asserted sovereignty over the entire Galwan Valley, a new claim and significant change to the territorial status quo."
"Tensions have increased since the initial clash, with China reportedly building up its troop presence along the LAC since July. In September, shots were fired for the first time since 1975 along the border around Pangong Tso, a strategic area near the site of the clash in June.302 Although no injuries were reported, both sides accused each other of violating a 1996 agreement barring the use of firearms along the LAC."
"An Indian special forces soldier of Tibetan origin also died along the LAC, reportedly from a landmine blast. In an unusual move, India allowed the soldier's funeral to be publicized and dispatched a high-ranking official from India's ruling party to attend. On September 10, the Chinese and Indian foreign ministers met in Moscow on the sidelines of the annual Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit and pledged to defuse tensions, with Beijing agreeing to release five Indian nationals it had captured along the border. Despite this agreement, China subsequently conducted war games in Tibet."
"The PLA Navy has also regularly deployed diesel-electric and nuclear attack submarines in the Indian Ocean since 2013, which -- despite their ostensible mission to support China's Gulf of Aden antipiracy task forces -- serve to collect intelligence and signal to India that China could contest the Indian Navy or threaten commercial shipping."
"Chinese hydrographic survey vessels also sometimes venture into waters around India’s strategic sites to collect intelligence. For example, India's navy chased away China’s Shiyan-1 research vessel in December 2019 after catching the vessel loitering without permission near Port Blair, the capital of the Indian-administered Andaman and
Nicobar Islands where the Indian Armed Force’s tri-service theater command is based."
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